Daniela Bianchi, who played Tatiana Romanova in From Russia With Love (in my opinion, the greatest Bond movie), turns 66 today.
Bianchi is a kind of watershed for Bond girls, a dividing line between old and new. She is the diametric opposite of Anya Amasova; she is indecisive where Anya is firm, helpless where Anya is competent, naive where Anya is on top of the situation. Tanya is manipulated by spies; Agent XXX is a super-spy herself.
Younger Bond fans may decry the “Bond’s equal” stereotype of the modern Bond woman, but they also shy away from Tanya’s sweet innocence. Slipping into Bond’s bed wearing only a black velvet neck ribbon, she is a package to be unwrapped, not a woman making choices.
Older fans, while not necessarily regressive anti-modernists, are more comfortable with a woman in need of rescue. My own contention is that not every woman is equally capable of handling herself in a Bond-type situation. I am comfortable with, even delighted by, modern strong women who kick ass—I adore Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin, for example, as well as the aforementioned Agent XXX—but not every woman that Bond encounters should be of the same type.
From a personal point of view, I think a beauty like Tanya is my fantasy of how I’d encounter Bond. I don’t imagine myself kicking ass. It’s just outside my experience, my sense of myself. So a woman rescued by Bond and enamored of him appeals to me, as who I’d be in the scenario.
And truly, no woman has ever played a damsel in distress more beautifully, more appealingly, than Ms. Bianchi.
By the way, today is also Minnie Driver’s 38th birthday. Driver, wonderful in such movies as Grosse Point Blank and Good Will Hunting, has a small role as the world’s worst Country & Western singer in GoldenEye.